What is collective responsibility of State Council of Ministers?

Q.  Which of the following is/are true regarding the responsibility of State Council of Ministers?

1) Article 164 deals with collective as well as individual responsibility of the Council of Ministers.
2) The Governor may not oblige the Council of Ministers that has lost the confidence of the legislative assembly.

- Published on 06 Mar 17

a. Only 1
b. Only 2
c. Both 1 and 2
d. Neither 1 nor 2

ANSWER: Both 1 and 2
    Collective Responsibility -

  • The fundamental principle in working of parliamentary system of government is the principle of collective responsibility.

  • Article 164 clearly states that the Council of Ministers is collectively responsible to the legislative assembly.

  • This means that all the ministers own joint responsibility to the legislative assembly for all their acts of omission and commission.

  • When the legislative assembly passes a no-confidence motion against the Council of Ministers, all the ministers have to resign including those ministers who are from the legislative council.

  • Each minister need not resign separately; the resignation of the Chief Minister amounts to the resignation of the entire Council of Ministers.

  • Alternatively, the Council of Ministers can advise the Governor to dissolve the legislative assembly on the ground that the House does not represent the views of the electorate faithfully and call for fresh elections.

  • The Governor may not oblige the Council of Ministers that has lost the confidence of the legislative assembly.

  • The principle of collective responsibility also means that the cabinet decisions bind all Cabinet Ministers (and other ministers) even if they differed in the cabinet meeting.

  • It is the duty of every minister to stand by cabinet decisions and support them both within and outside the state legislature.

  • If any minister disagrees with a cabinet decision and is not prepared to defend it, he must resign.

  • Several ministers have resigned in the past owing to their differences with the cabinet.

  • Individual Responsibility -

  • Article 164 also contains principle of individual responsibility.

  • It states that the ministers hold office during the pleasure of the Governor, which means that the Governor can remove a minister even at a time when the Council of Ministers enjoys the confidence of the legislative assembly.

  • However, the Governor removes a minister only on the advice of the Chief Minister.

  • In case of a difference of opinion or dissatisfaction with the performance of a minister, the Chief Minister can ask him to resign or advice the Governor to dismiss him.

  • By exercising this power, the Chief Minister can ensure the realization of the rule of collective responsibility.

  • No Legal Responsibility -

  • In India, there is no provision in the Constitution for the system of legal responsibility of a minister. This is applicable to centre as well as states.

  • It is not required that an order of the Governor for a public act should be counter-signed by a minister.

  • Moreover, the courts are barred from enquiring into the nature of advice rendered by the ministers to the Governor.

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